M A I N   N E W S

Swamy gives SC ‘evidence’ of Chidambaram’s role in 2G
But CBI maintains apex court has no power to direct it to probe minister’s role
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 21
Just five days after the allocation of 2G Spectrum on January 10, 2008, to telecom companies by then Telecom Minister A Raja, then Finance Minister P Chidambaram had sent a “secret note” to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, advising him to treat the matter (which has now come to be known as 2G scam) “as a closed chapter”.

This has been revealed in an “office memorandum” prepared by the Finance Ministry on the “basic facts on allocation and pricing and allocation of 2G Spectrum” and sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on March 25, 2011.

The covering letter of the memorandum, signed by Dr PGS Rao, Deputy Director (Infrastructure and Investment Division) and addressed to Vini Mahajan, Joint Secretary, PMO, has made it clear that “this (memorandum) has been seen by Finance Minister” Pranab Mukherjee.

Copies of the document were submitted to a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, who has sought the apex court’s direction to the CBI to investigate into the alleged role of Chidambaram in the 2G scam. According to various estimates, the scam has resulted in a notional loss ranging from a few thousand crores of rupees to a whopping Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the government exchequer.

Swamy has filed the document in support of his charge relating to the possible involvement of Chidambaram in the scam. On being asked by the Bench, Swamy gave copies of the document to the government lawyer as well. The CBI is opposing the plea for bringing Chidambaram under the ambit of its investigations into the scam.

According to the 11-page memorandum, using a “position paper” given to him by his officials on January 9, 2008, as the “basis”, Chidambaram sent a “secret note to the Prime Minister on January 15, 2008, wherein, an auction-based mechanism was recommended for future allocation of Spectrum (beyond the start-up Spectrum), with the Spectrum allocations having been made in the past to be treated as a closed chapter”.

The “position paper” had recommended “adoption of an auction methodology for determination of the Spectrum usage charges”.

The Finance Ministry’s communication also states that Chidambaram’s note “did not deal with the need, if any, to revise entry fee or the rate of revenue share.

Further, Chidambaram had also clarified at a meeting he had with Raja on January 30, 2008, that he (Chidambaram) was “for now not seeking to revisit the current regimes for entry fee or revenue share”, the memorandum pointed out.

The communication also talks about several other lapses on the part of Chidambaram that ultimately allowed the allocation of Spectrum at 2001 prices without even indexing the prices on the basis of State Bank of India’s prime lending rates (PLR), let alone auctioning for preventing loss to the government.




SC slams CBI, TRAI

The Supreme Court on Wednesday found fault with both the CBI and the telecom regulator (TRAI) for making their individual assessments of the loss arising from the 2G scam, instead of leaving the exercise to the trial court. The court said it was “really surprised” that the TRAI had even passed on its assessment to the CBI. The communication sent by TRAI, set up by an Act of Parliament, was “debatable”, the Bench said.

The court also pointed out that the CBI’s estimate of the loss at Rs 30,984 was nowhere near the Rs 1.76 lakh crore arrived at by the CAG.

TRAI had refrained from giving an exact figure for the loss. Some reports had interpreted this to contend that according to TRAI there was no loss.





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